This story is part of, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.
Flashy three-story booths and auditoriums full of tech nerds were replaced by highly produced livestreams and virtual pitches from executives dialing in from their home offices and kitchen tables. But in the end, it was still.
We got our first look at what are likely to become some of the most popularand of 2021. We saw ambitious ideas and concepts for products that may never come to market but could inspire future product designers to keep dreaming. And, of course, we were entertained by the usual , flights of fancy and .
One thing that will forever distinguish CES 2021 was how many companies showed us their efforts to, in ways large and small. Cynics would say that some of it was pure marketing. But there was no doubt that some of the best minds in the tech industry have been putting brain cycles into solving society’s problems and doing service to humanity.
Of all the products we saw, from the most ambitious to the most helpful, these were the ones that stood out:
High-tech N95 mask from Razer
Gaming company Razer showed off a concept, called, for a high-tech face mask with active ventilation, a clear shield so you can see people speaking and a case that recharges the ventilators and does UV sanitization of the mask as it’s charging. It also has LED lights on it and looks like it’s straight out of the pages of sci-fi.
HP Dragonfly Max, with a 5MP webcam
Among the powerful laptops at CES 2021, we noted thefor its built-in Tile tracker, its attractive blue design and the fact it’s one of the only new laptops to include an upgraded 5-megapixel webcam with four wide-range microphones. In the , a lot of people will welcome those upgrades.
In one of the first press conferences of CES 2021, we got a peek at a smartphone display that rolls upward to expand the viewing area of the screen. Like foldable phones, it looks amazingly futuristic, but doesn’t have a ton of obvious benefits. However, CNET’s Roger Cheng has confirmed that this wasn’t just a concept but is a.
Cadillac eVTOL Air Taxi
GM used CES to announce that it’s. And, by far, the most interesting EV announced was the . It’s more of a giant drone than a flying car, but this is the kind of stuff that the CES audience loves.
Samsung Solar-Powered Remote
The 800-pound gorilla of CES, Samsung,, but the thing that really caught our attention was something much simpler — its new . No more replacing and throwing away alkaline batteries. Instead, you can flip the remote over and let it charge from the mini solar panel on the back (or plug it into a USB-C port).
LG Transparent OLED Display Concept
Speaking of TVs, LG had one of the flashiest demos of CES 2021 with its, as expected. While this is still a concept, LG showed off some impressive scenarios of this tech in action on train windows, restaurant partitions and hiding away in the footboard of a bed.
TCL TVs expand to 85 inches and 8K
Turning to TVs people will actually buy soon,. The popular TV maker is likely to be competitive on cost and make both 85-inch screens and 8K more affordable for a lot more people in 2021. The timing is obviously great for people getting 100% of their entertainment at home right now.
Nobi fall-sensing ceiling lamp
Senior citizens have been one of the most at-risk groups during the pandemic and a product meant to help them is what may be. It uses sensors and AI for active monitoring and can detect falls and other risks and then send alerts. It even has a built-in smoke detector, an air quality sensor and a 4G SIM card in case Wi-Fi goes down.
Alarm.com Touchless Video Doorbell
Instead of pushing a button,uses a doormat and AI to detect when someone has arrived at your doorstep, and lets you talk to them through an app with the built-in camera and microphone. It’s a touchless system for the age of the coronavirus.
Samsung Robot Butler (Bot Handy)
Surprisingly, the Samsung keynote at this year’s CES had a lot more robots than TVs or gadgets. The most intriguing one was the, which can help with tasks around the house and bring you something to drink. The demo video showed it taking dishes out of the sink and loading them into a dishwasher. We haven’t seen this kind of a stir from CES attendees since the teased us a few years ago.
Acer Chromebook Spin 514
With Chromebooks becoming the center of education for many elementary and middle school students right now, a CES 2021 product that many parents will appreciate is the. It has the looks of a jet and the body of a tank. With a Gorilla Glass screen and MIL-STD 810H1 compliance, it’s got an indestructible vibe.
Kohler Touchless Toilet
Potty humor arrived at CES the last few years with more and more smart bathroom tech, and 2021 didn’t disappoint with a. Simply wave your hand in front of the handle and it will flush automatically. Like the touchless doorbell we mentioned earlier, this is aimed at cutting down on the spread of germs from common surfaces.
Samsung JetBot 90 AI
Another Samsung robot was its AI-powered vacuum cleaner that is loaded with lidar and cameras to make it smarter and more automated than traditional robot vacuums. Thealso doubles as a roving security camera to keep an eye on your pets and your house when you’re away — for when that day comes that we can all safely leave our homes again.
Infinity Game Table
One of the most fun things at CES this year was the, which digitizes some of the world’s most popular board games on a touchscreen table. You can play digital Monopoly against a family member or roommate and no one has to be the banker. You can even play against other friends and family members online, if they have their own table.